(Note: There are no spoilers here. Don’t worry. 🙂 ).
I’ve never been into comics or sci-fi or fantasy, and I will fully admit that I blindly jumped on this bandwagon (Jamaicans would call that “follow fashion”), but Black Panther always struck me as a movie I needed to see.
I remember “way back when” people were talking about the release of Black Panther and I saw posts like this on social media:
I knew instinctively that this was the kind of movie that would be best viewed alongside people of ebony-hue. Alas, I live in Ottawa, and there are only about five Black people here. I did not know what to do. *Sigh*
Sure I could go and see this film with my non-Black friends, but it wouldn’t be the same. That wouldn’t be fun. In fact, that would ruin the whole experience.
When I saw postings on social media of Black people getting dressed up in kente cloth and Africentric dress on their way to the theatre, I knew that I needed to somehow see this movie with Black people. Mi gente.
I needed to see it with people who would get it.
Luckily, I found myself in Toronto on opening weekend (#WakandaWeekend) and was able to watch the movie with my sister and my nephew (aka other Black people).
I’m so glad I saw Black Panther with Black people. Here’s why:
I Didn’t Have to Explain Myself
There is nothing worse in going to see something of importance to you and then having to constantly explain it and break it down.
It’s like having to explain an inside joke. If you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny anymore.
It’s like that time when my parents took all three of us to watch Prince of Egypt when it just came out. I must have been like ten years old, and my brother must have been like six years old, and every time an olive-skinned person would appear on screen, my brother would nudge and ask me in the most annoying six-year-old voice ever, “Is that Jesus?” throughout the whole damn entire film. And every time — every single solitary living time — I had to be like, “No. Jesus is not in this movie.”
Like no. Be quiet. Let me watch the movie in peace.
In Black Panther, when Shuri said, “Don’t scare me like that, colonizer,” I needed to be around people who wouldn’t be immediately made uncomfortable. I needed to be surrounded by people who would understand the shade and the significance of a Black woman having the confidence and being in the social position such that she could call a White man “colonizer” with impunity. I needed to be around people who didn’t need a reminder of the effects of colonization (Side note: Wakanda could have actually existed today were it not for colonization. Selah. I digress.). I didn’t want to experience (read: enjoy and bask in) that moment, only to then be forced into a conversation with my non-Black friends, defending and exonerating Marvel Studios, and potentially having to deal with White tears and White guilt. I don’t need White tears in my popcorn.
Let me get my life with this film. Let us have this moment. Let the struggle and oppression and concomitant brilliance of my people be acknowledged in peace. Thank you.
I needed to watch this with Black people and particularly with another Black woman for the sake of solidarity and sisterhood. There were so many times when I would glance at my sister, the eyes of my sister and I would meet and we would have a moment of “YAASSSSSS!!” Words were not necessary. She knew. She got it. So many times I would turn to my sister and she would turn to me at the same time and there was that instant connection — someone who understood, someone who got it, someone who knew why I was excited and someone who was equally (or perhaps even more) excited.
You want to go with people who are just as hyped up as you are, who understand the significance of what you are watching #fortheculture.
I needed to help #teachthebabies #fortheculture.
I went with my four-year-old (Black, half Nigerian, half Jamaican) nephew to watch the movie. I wanted him to see Black royalty. I wanted him to see Black women being bad-ass, and I wanted him to see people who look like him and who come from where he comes from on the screen, even at the price of some “scary” parts.
The following post describes the potential impact of Black Panther on our babies:
Unification and Solidarity
Watching Black Panther was unifying. I’ve never seen Black people all over the world unite over something in this way (if only we could harness this critical mass for other things… like voting). I needed to see Black Panther with Black people in order join and feel a part of the worldwide joy of representation in Hollywood and seeing ourselves on screen in all of our regalness. I wanted to wear my kente cloth and not have to explain what it is I was wearing. Amen.
I was part of something bigger — part of the African diaspora going to see a movie and getting ther collective lives:
The Significance of This Movie for People of African Descent (aka Black People)
The significance of this movie cannot be overstated. Read the following if you still don’t understand what this means #fortheculture:
When the movie ended, I was the first one to clap. I spearheaded the applause. We were not about to leave the theatre without giving this masterpiece its due respect, best believe. This movie means so much to us, but especially to Black people. I don’t regret going to see it with people who look like me.
For now on, I’m greeting everyone like this:
#fortheculture #Wakandaforever #BlackPanther